How to knit the broken rib stitch

A step-by-step tutorial on the broken rib stitch knitting pattern. How to knit it flat or in the round.

Do you want to add a little bit of texture to your knitting without losing stretchiness? Then the broken rib stitch knitting pattern might be what you are looking for. It’s a simple 2-row repeat that only requires you to know the knit and the purl stitch.

a swatch knitted in the broken rib stitch pattern on a table

The broken rib stitch is based on the classic rib stitch. It’s maybe a tiny bit less stretchy and you will notice a tiny bit of curling on the edges if you don’t pick a selvage stitch (like a 3-stitch garter stitch edge).

macro shot of the broken rib stitch knitting pattern
A close-up macro shot of the broken rib stitch

Strictly speaking, it is not a reversible pattern either. However, as the wrong side is quite lovely, it’s certainly an option to use it for a scarf or blanket, as long as you observe some basic methods to prevent curling.

the wrong side of the broken rib stitch knitting pattern
The wrong side of the same swatch
a swatch in the broken rib stitch curling on the edges
Here is the same swatch before blocking

Let’s dive right into it, eh?

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Instructions for the broken rib stitch pattern

someone showing how to knit the broken rib stitch knitting pattern

You can knit the broken rib stitch with any number of stitches but for a symmetrical outcome, an odd number is recommended. Here's the repeat for flat projects:

  • Row 1 (RS): knit across
  • Row 2 (WS): *p1, k1*, p1
  • Repeat these two rows over and over again
Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Instructions

  1. Cast on an odd number of stitches using a moderately stretchy cast-on of your choice. As a beginner, a standard longtail cast-on around two needles will be more than fine.


    starting the broken rib stitch by casting on an odd number of stitches
  2. Turn the work around, remove the second needle, and knit across the whole first row.

    knitting across the whole first row
  3. Turn your work around, keep the yarn in front of your work, and start the second row with a purl stitch.

    purling one stitch after having turned the work around
  4. Bring the yarn to the back and knit one stitch.

    knitting one stitch
  5. Continue alternating between knit and purl stitches for the rest of the second row, ending with a knit stitch.

    continuing alternating between knit and purl stitches across the whole second row
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 until your project reached the desired length.

    continuing with the broken rib stitch repeat

Notes

You may consider casting on 3 additional stitches to create nice and neat symmetrical edges. In this case, the repeat changes to:

  • RS: sl1 purlwise with yarn in back, knit across
  • WS: sl1 purlwise with yarn in front, *p1, k1* p2
  • Broken rib stitch in the round

    Of course, you can also knit it in the round. This pattern could look very lovely for a hat, if you ask me. The best part, the repeat is almost the same:

    • Cast on an even number of stitches
    • Round 1: knit across
    • Round 2: *k1, p1*
    • repeat rounds 1+2 until you reached the desired length
    working on the broken rib stitch knitting pattern - mid row

    Here at the end, there’s one more important tip. No matter if you are knitting this knitting stitch pattern in the round or flat, a lot of knitters struggle with their tension. I have a full tutorial on knitting neater ribbings that may be able to help you understand why some stitches look a bit looser than others.

    Anyway, that’s how to knit the broken rib stitch knitting pattern. Comment below in case you have any questions

    how to knit the broken rib stitch - a step by step tutorial for beginners

    2 thoughts on “How to knit the broken rib stitch”

    1. Hi Norman,
      Thank you for this beautiful tutorial!
      Would you have any advice or recommendations on how to vertical seam this pattern?

      I am attempting to make a little draw string bag knitted in a long rectangle that folds in half & seamed up the sides so that both the short edges of the rectangle make the top of bag.
      Pattern works broken rib for 1.5 inches, add eyelet row, work broken rib another 9 inches, add 2nd eyelet row, then work a final 1.5 inches. bind off, sew side seams.
      I am very new to knitting, & not sure what the best method would be for the seaming part.
      Thank you,

      Reply
      • I would probably add a 1 stitch garter stitch selvage on either end and seam with the mattress stitch for garter stitch (tutorial available here on my blog)
        But no guarantees – i haven’t tried this myself as I would simply knit it in the round. This would just be the first thing I’d try

        Reply

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